Archives for 2017

Dr. Stewart Custer – 1931-2017

I’ve been thinking about Dr. Custer a lot these last couple of days. Many accolades coming from other grateful students, and well deserved. I was thinking back over the many hours of instruction I had from him, so took a look in my files to discover which classes he taught me. Methods of Bible Exposition is always mentioned, it was perhaps his signature course, but here is my list:

  • Methods of Bible Exposition (OT Semester)
  • Contemporary Theology
  • New Testament Word Studies
  • History of New Testament Times
  • Eschatology

I think that’s all of them, 15 credit hours of classroom instruction. To say Dr. Custer had a huge impact on my ministry would be an understatement. He contributed much to my understanding, but most of all to my method. The Bible first, last, and always – it is always our authority and trumps every argument raised against it.

The first three courses listed above are memorable to me as I had them all in one semester: A paper due every Monday, every Friday, and every other Wednesday. My wife (at that time my girlfriend) won accolades as well, as she typed almost all of them. Our dates, that semester, were often at her mother’s house where she would start typing one paper while I started writing the next.

The value of most of his courses came from his prodigious reading. He once quipped in class, “You have heard the rumor that I read a book a day. That’s not quite true. It’s more like a book a night.” And he took notes as he read, making those books useful and accessible to us. My notes are full of references to many books, a few of which I have now read myself, but I would need a couple of more lifetimes to read them all. (And I wish I could!)

A few gems from my notes, the first from the History of NT Times:

“Goals of this Course:

  1. A sense of the reality of Scripture (not cunningly devised fables)
  2. Determine to pass this on to others”

He, along with the rest of the professors at BJU, were more interested in equipping servants for the church than getting published to puff their resumes.

From Methods:

On a piece of advice from Sangster, who said “Don’t preach at, under, or over the congregation,” he warned against “being the Holy Spirit” (preaching at), being “too simplistic” (preaching under), and “feed the sheep, not the giraffes” (preaching over).

Also: Spiritual Qualifications for an Interpreter of Scripture

  1. Must be a born again believer (Jn 3.3)
  2. Must be surrendered and obedient (Jn 7.17)
  3. Must be honest (Ac 20.6-7) [willing to change your opinions if the text demands it]
  4. Must be taught by the Spirit
  5. Must be diligent (Jn 5.39)

He probably had a scripture reference for point 4, but I missed it, diligent student that I am.

On this passage:

Deuteronomy 31:12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:

He offered the “Sequence of Study”:

  • “that they may hear” – 1st step – hear what God says
  • “that they may learn” – 2nd step – going farther, making it part of you
  • “fear the Lord” – 3rd step – change your heart toward God
  • “observe to do” – 4th step – obedience, put the word in your life

Well, I could find more, but I will stop there.

As a pastor for thirty-two years, I have to say that I owe Stewart Custer a great deal of gratitude for what he taught me and surely any fruit my ministry has had owes some to his influence as well.

What a blessing to have known him and sat under his feet.

Pastoral Reading Group

One of the things my brother and I have been doing for over twenty years is to meet together in a reading group with a couple of other pastor friends. We pick a book to read, set a time a few months away, reschedule at the last minute (not a requirement but a frequent occurrence), meet for lunch and discuss, then pray for one another’s ministries. It is a great blessing to us.

Over the years we have kept very spotty records, especially early on, but I think we have read well over 100 books together. I’m going to post the list in a table below. Some titles are missing, though we know that we met on the dates indicated. I thought the list might be of interest to some. You might not like some of the titles. Neither did we, after the fact! Others, some of us liked and others disliked. Nevertheless, edifying discussion has always been the fruit of this meeting.

My brother got the idea from Pastor Mark Minnick some time ago and we’ve kept it up.

Our list includes our next book, The Baptist Story, which is my pick. I reviewed it here.

Date

Title

Author

3/28/2017

The Baptist Story

Chute, Anthony, Nathan Finn, & Michael Haykin

1/12/2017

Between Pain & Grace

Peterman, Gerald & Andrew Schmutzer

9/13/2016

J. C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone

Murray, Iain

5/17/2016

All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes

Myers, Kenneth

2/2/2016

Biblical Worldview

ed. Mark Ward

10/27/2015

Far Above Rubies

Clark, Lynette

7/21/2015

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

Butterfield, Rosaria

7/21/2015

Christians and Alcohol

Jaeggli, Randy

2/26/2015

Love, Liberty, and Christian Conscience

Jaeggli, Randy

2/26/2015

The Law and the Christian

Casillas, Ken

10/23/2014

Apologetics to the Glory of God

Frame, John

7/17/2014

Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence

Harman, Allan

2/6/2014

The Servant of Jehovah

Baron, David

10/24/2013

Millennialism

Feinberg, Charles

8/1/2013

Fundamentalism and American Culture

Marsden, George

3/28/2013

A Passion for God (about Tozer)

Dorsett, Lyle

1/17/2013

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Tripp, Paul

10/11/2012

Refuting Compromise

Sarfati, Jonathan

6/21/2012

The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fund.

Henry, Carl

1/26/2012

Theologians of the Baptist Tradition

George, Timothy and Dockery, David

9/15/2011

Through Jewish Eyes

Hartman, Craig

6/28/2011

Is God a Moral Monster?

Copan, Paul

3/31/2011

Whosoever Will

ed., Allen, David & S. Lemke

1/13/2011

The Word Became Fresh

Davis, Dale Ralph

7/29/2010

Cornelius Van Til

Muether, John

3/25/2010

Ten Books that Screwed Up the World

Wiker, B.

1/21/2010

Not by Chance

Talbert, Layton

9/24/2009

25 Surprising Marriages

Petersen, William

6/25/2009

Worship in Song

Aniol, Scott

3/19/2009

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

Carson, D. A.

3/19/2009

Model of Christian Maturity

Carson, D. A.

1/22/2009

The Company of the Preachers, Vol. 1

Larsen, David

9/25/2008

Faith that Endures

Boyd-MacMillan, Ronald

7/24/2008

The Greatness of the Kingdom, part 2

McClain, Alva

3/27/2008

The Greatness of the Kingdom, part 1

McClain, Alva

1/31/2008

Evangelical Hermeneutics

Thomas, Robert L.

11/15/2007

Understanding the Deeper Life

Towns, Elmer

9/13/2007

A Royal Destiny

Wisdom, Thurman

6/14/2007

A History of the Baptists, Vol. 1

John T. Christian

3/22/2007

Worship in the Early Church

Martin, Ralph

3/22/2007

Whatever Happened to Worship?

Tozer, A. W.

1/25/2007

Crowded to Christ

Maxwell, L. E.

10/12/2006

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith

Murray, Iain

6/15/2006

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years

Murray, Iain

4/13/2006

Unveiling Islam

Caner & Caner

2/9/2006

Tell the Truth

Metzger, Will

10/13/2005

What Is an Evangelical?

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn

8/23/2005

When People Are Big and God Is Small

Welch, Ed

4/28/2005

Putting the Truth to Work

Doriani, Daniel M.

12/2/2004

The Danger of Self-Love

Brownback, Paul

9/16/2004

Blame It On The Brain?

Welch, Ed

6/29/2004

xxx

xxx

4/1/2004

Set Apart

Hughes, R. Kent

1/22/2004

xxx

xxx

8/7/2003

xxx

xxx

8/7/2003

xxx

xxx

5/8/2003

Postmodern Times

Vieth, Gene

2/20/2003

Evangelicalism Divided

Murray, Iain

1/11/2003

Jonathan Edwards

Marsden, George

12/5/2002

Planting Churches Cross-Culturally

Hesselgrave, David

9/26/2002

From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya

Tucker, Ruth

6/13/2002

Desiring God

John Piper

4/4/2002

The Reformed Pastor

Baxter, Richard

1/31/2002

xxx

xxx

1/15/2002

Spurgeon

Dallimore, Arnold

11/29/2001

Why do Good People do Bad Things

Lutzer, Erwin

9/13/2001

xxx

xxx

6/28/2001

xxx

xxx

2/15/2001

xxx

xxx

1/9/2001

The Complete Husband

Priolo, Lou

1/2/2001

Christ-Centered Preaching

Chapell, Bryan

11/24/2000

Spiritual Depression

Lloyd-Jones

9/7/2000

xxx

xxx

5/2/2000

xxx

xxx

2/15/2000

xxx

xxx

11/29/1999

xxx

xxx

9/7/1999

xxx

xxx

6/29/1999

Lectures to My Students

Spurgeon, Charles

4/20/1999

xxx

xxx

1/19/1999

xxx

xxx

1/9/1999

Failure the Backdoor to Success

Lutzer, Erwin

1/4/1999

Key to the Missionary Problem

Murray, Andrew

10/29/1998

xxx

xxx

6/9/1998

xxx

xxx

2/10/1998

xxx

xxx

12/5/1997

xxx

xxx

10/21/1997

xxx

xxx

separation

Kevin Bauder critiques my recent post “Response to Tyler Robbins” beginning this way:

In Pastor Don Johnson’s description of “Convergent” evangelicals, the first item is “Anti-separatism (or at least non-separatism).” This descriptor is so vague as to be nearly incomprehensible, and to the degree that it can be comprehended it is misleading. To know what Pastor Johnson means by “anti-separatism,” we would first have to know exactly what he means by separatism. Presumably he is thinking in terms of some version of ecclesiastical separation, though exactly what his theory of ecclesiastical separation is, I have never quite been able to understand. At any rate, assuming that he is accusing “Convergents” of rejecting (or at least not implementing) ecclesiastical separation, the accusation is terribly unfair.

Even the Neoevangelicals were not completely anti-separatistic. They never argued for engaging in Christian fellowship with Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, Jainists, Sikhs, Bahaists, Theosophists, Spiritists, Atheists, Satanists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Millennial Dawnists, or Mormons. They clearly understood that no Christian fellowship was possible with adherents of these gospel-denying systems.

It is true that I did not define what I meant by anti-separatist, but I think brother Bauder is well aware of what I mean by separatism as he goes on to describe it later in his post. I think his opening, however, is an odd attempt to muddy the waters as he argues that the New Evangelicals were somehow still a kind of separatist. If everyone is a separatist, no one is a separatist. Clearly the New Evangelicals were not for separation from theological liberalism, rather they sought to infiltrate and cooperate with liberalism for various ends, some of which Bauder lists in his post.

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